Rabbits are one of the most popular household pets. Between 3 and 7 million households either adopted or bought a rabbit in 2014, making them the third favorite companion mammal in both the U.S. and the U.K.
Rabbits are beloved by millions worldwide. They’re affordable, entertaining, easy to care for, and can be very affectionate. Before you adopt or shop for a pet rabbit, take the time to consider your choices and options.
Choose The Perfect Pet Rabbit
Making a choice of a pet rabbit like all other pets, needs to be decided by all your family members. Pick the one that fits your family’s style and needs.
The most important things to consider are briefly:
- Rabbit Size
- Rabbit’s Health
- Needs to be at least eight weeks old
- The cost of spaying or neutering
- Learn about rabbit breeds
- Research everyday health care
- Find a child-friendly breed, If there are children in the family
- Adopt or buy from a reputable source
1. Give careful consideration to the rabbit’s size.
Choose a pet rabbits regarding the perfect fit for a small apartment or a large house. As long as they are in an appropriately sized cage, rabbits can thrive in most living environments. The Dwarf rabbit is a petite breed and popular for smaller living spaces. However, most experts advise against keeping rabbits in an outdoor hutch, because pet rabbits aren’t able to defend themselves against predators or the elements of weather.
Consider your living space before buying a rabbit to make sure the conditions are adequate.
2. Choose a healthy rabbit.
Know how to spot a sick rabbit to make sure you are purchasing a healthy one. Keep in mind some signs that could indicate sickness:
- Loss of balance or a head tilt could denote an inner ear infection and require medical attention.
- Wet chin or drooling is often a sign of tooth problems and could lead to an infection of the jaw bone.
- Difficulty breathing, runny eyes or nose, or constant sneezing could mean the rabbit has an upper respiratory infection, a blocked tear duct, or allergies, among other problems.
3. Buy a rabbit that is at least eight weeks old.
Most breeders don’t sell infant rabbits, mostly because rabbits younger than eight weeks require great care and significant time investment. Waiting to acquire a rabbit until it is at least eight weeks old ensures that it is fully weaned and able to eat solid food.
4. Consider the necessary cost of spaying or neutering.
Some stores and shelters spay or neuter their rabbits before your purchase, but that cost does occasionally fall on the consumer. While buying a single rabbit is usually recommended for a first-time owner, the male rabbit should still be neutered to prevent territorial marking with urine. Rabbits are known for being able to procreate quickly, so if you are buying multiple rabbits, make sure they are de-sexed, or factor that cost into your purchase.
5. Learn about rabbit breeds to find the best fit for your family.
Rabbits are like many other mammals that are kept as pets; their breed can often determine their disposition. Some breeds of rabbit are known for being affectionate and social, while some are known for being temperamental and unfriendly. Most breeds of rabbits are usually very friendly, but some can be nervous rabbits, especially around humans.
A few specific breeds are known for their habit of nipping, while some are considered generally easy-going. Decide what kind of rabbit you’re looking for, research their different personality types, and choose a rabbit breed with a personality that will best fit your lifestyle.
6. Research everyday health needs for the breeds that interest you.
Similarly to personality types, each rabbit breed has its own unique set of health needs and propensities. Several breeds require a specialized diet, while others are more prone to ear infections, respiratory infections, and dental problems. Knowing the extra time or money that may be required throughout your pet’s life will help your decision be as informed as possible.
7. If your rabbit is around children, find a child-friendly breed.
Not all rabbits are well-suited to be around children, no matter how cute and cuddly they appear. Larger breeds like the French Lop tend to be the best breed for children’s pets as they are less likely to nip than smaller breeds and can handle less than delicate handling from children.
Likewise, when purchasing a rabbit that will be around children, make sure to look for breeds that are generally known for being more patient and tolerant. Researching the rabbit’s personality and needs can help make sure the rabbit you purchase is the best fit for you.
8. Adopt or buy from a reputable source.
If possible, either adopt your pet rabbit from a shelter or rescue organization or buy from a well-respected pet store. If you’re buying from a breeder, ask for references. Wherever you buy, make sure to ask the shelter staff, store staff, or breeder as many questions as possible about the rabbit’s care and illness history.
A quality source should make sure the rabbit has been handled and socialized with humans from an early age which helps ensure that the rabbit will be comfortable as a pet.